Our Philosophy of Worship
We are committed to being a worshiping church. The goal of worship is to so experience God that He is glorified in our affections.
Worship is to be the lifestyle of the believer in Christ and the hallmark of the church gathered corporately.
The corporate gathering of the church to worship consists of four major elements: Proclamation of the Word, Praise, Prayer, and the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Each of these is an essential part of Christian worship and no element should be allowed to usurp any other element.
Proclamation of the Word
“Word and worship belong indissolubly to each other. All worship is an intelligent and loving response to the revelation of God, because it is the adoration of His Name. Therefore, acceptable worship is impossible without preaching. For preaching is making known the Name of the Lord, and worship is praising the Name made known. Far from being an alien to worship, the reading and preaching of the Word are actually indispensable to it. The two cannot be divorced. Indeed, it is their unnatural divorce which accounts for the low level of so much contemporary worship. Our worship is poor because our knowledge of God is poor and our knowledge of God is poor because our preaching is poor. But when the Word of God is expounded in its fullness and the congregation begins to glimpse the glory of the living God, they bow down in solemn awe and joyful wonder before His throne. It is preaching that accomplishes this, the proclamation of the Word of God in the power of the Spirit of God. That is why preaching is unique and irreplaceable.”
As the Lord Jesus Christ is the Word Incarnate, the declaration of the Father, the One by Whom the Father is known, we must “preach Christ, always and evermore. He is the whole gospel. His person, offices, word and work must be our one great all-comprehending theme.”
We affirm the priority and power of the preaching of the Word of God.
Music is in Luther’s words, “a fair and glorious gift of God, second only to the Word of God.” Music is a most blessed and dynamic medium for giving both expression to the truth about God, as well as giving expression of our response to the truth about God. We desire to see music given its full opportunity to function as that most glorious gift that it is, in being a vehicle for both proclamation and response.
Worship music should maintain a balance between intellect and emotion. Paul gave clear indication of this desire on his part when he stated “I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind.” (I Corinthians 14:15) We seek to avoid the extremes of either a barren intellectualism devoid of emotion or a mindless emotionalism devoid of intellect.
We are committed to a variety of musical expression, embracing both the musical expressions of the past as a rich treasure of the soul yearnings of the saints of God who have walked before us, as well as the musical expressions of the present as an equally rich treasure of the soul yearnings of contemporary believers which is testimony to God’s present work and relevance as He continues to give to His people a new song. We add that all music, past and present, traditional and contemporary should be excellent and noble in lyric and composition, be done well, thoughtfully, to the glory of God and the edification of His people.
We believe that musical accompaniment, vocal or instrumental, exists only to assist the congregation in worship, and that entertainment is an impediment to true worship. Entertainment turns people from being active participants into passive observers. The accompaniment must never come between the congregation and God and their privilege, responsibility, and high calling to be worshipers of God.
Special music, ie. solos, instrumentals, voluntaries, offertories, may be presented as spiritual offerings to God, for His glory and the edification of His people. Such presentations should seek to magnify God and His truth and not the performer. Those involved in musical leadership should be lead worshippers of the highest spiritual qualification in addition to whatever level of musical expertise they possess and be those who model Christ in both their lives as well as their music.
Prayer, corporate and individual, is a part of the worship of God (Acts 2:42; 4:24; Psalm 95:6; II Chronicles 6:13; Matthew 15:25). In prayer we come to the Father (Luke 11:2; Psalm 62:8; John 14:23) in the name of Christ (John 14:23), by the help of the Spirit (Romans 8:26). In prayer, we confess the greatness of God, acknowledge our dependence upon Him (II Chronicles 20:6, 12) and our need for His grace and mercy (Hebrews 4:16). By prayer we obtain what God has promised through Christ (Daniel 9:2-3; Luke 11:9; John 14:13-14; 15:7: I; John 5:14). We endeavor to come to God in prayer at all times for all the saints (Ephesians 6:18) and particularly in our worship that He would bless His Word to the congregation and shower us with His blessings and a sense of His presence. We are committed to corporate and individual prayer.
Christ gave His church two sacraments or ordinances, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Augustine called these “visible words.” The sacraments engage the recipients themselves in an enactment of what Christ accomplished in His person and work. Moreover, God works in and through the sacraments, by the Holy Spirit, to bring believers into living fellowship with the risen Christ of Whom the sacraments speak (I Corinthians 10:16ff).
Thus, baptism signifies the believer’s entrance into new life in Christ, the cleansing, deliverance, and forgiveness of sins, the new birth, and union with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection (I Peter 3:21; Romans 6:1-6). The Lord’s Supper signifies Christ’s broken body and shed blood for the protection and nurture of His church, He being the True Passover Lamb (cp. Exodus 12:26, 13:8; Luke 22:14-20; I Corinthians 11:25-26) and His blood the ratification of the New Covenant.
In the Lord’s Supper, believers seek fresh communion with Christ as the Bread of Life (John 6:47-51, 56), strengthen their love for one another, and receive Christ’s pledge of His presence now (Matthew 18:20; 26:26; Mark 14:22) and fellowship with Him in heaven (Revelation 19:7-9). We are committed to the celebration of the sacraments.